A land mine blast triggered by suspected Maoist rebels killed at least three people in southern India early yesterday, but its presumed main target, a key governing Congress party lawmaker, was unscathed, an official said.
The mine, hidden under a small highway bridge, went off as N. Janardhan Reddy, the former top-elected official of southern Andhra Pradesh state, moved along with his supporters in a convoy of 50 cars in his native Nellore District, state Home Minister K. Jana Reddy said.
Another five were wounded in the blast, which missed Reddy's vehicle, but hit one of the accompanying cars near Vidyanagar, a village nearly 550km south of Hyderabad, the state capital, the home minister said.
His wife, state Education Minister N. Rajyalakshmi Reddy, was traveling in his vehicle and also escaped unharmed, the minister said.
"We suspect the involvement of the outlawed CPI Maoist," he said, referring to the rebel group the Communist Party of India Maoist.
The rebels often use mines to assassinate officials.
The former state chief minister was placed on a Maoist hit-list after he banned their group in 1992, said K. Lakshmi Reddy, a superintendent of police.
It was the first major attack by insurgents in Andhra Pradesh in more than a year. The guerrillas have been reorganizing after police killed at least 80 of their fighters this year. Twenty civilians and policemen have been killed by the militants, according to police.
The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese leader Mao Zedong (
More than 6,500 people have been killed in the violence.
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